Former Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown publicly admitted that his sudden departure during the third quarter of the Buccaneers' game against the New York Jets earlier this month "wasn't necessary."
"It probably wasn't necessary of professional," Brown told TMZ this week in Los Angeles.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers issued an official statement last week confirming Browns' release last week and denied accusations made by the wide receiver that he was forced to play on an injured ankle on January 2.
On January 5, Brown shared an MRI from two days prior that revealed broken bone fragments, a ligament torn from the bone, and cartilage loss as part of his first statement in response to a strange incident in which he walked off the field at MetLife Stadium during the third quarter of the Buccaneers' 28-24 win against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.
"The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have terminated the contract of Antonio Brown, effective immediately," the statement read. "While Antonio did receive treatment on his ankle and was listed on the injury report the week leading up to last Sunday's game, he was cleared to play by our medical team prior to the start of the game and at no point during the game did he indicate to our medical personnel that he could not play. We have attempted, multiple times throughout the week, to schedule an evaluation by an outside orthopedic specialist, yet Antonio has not complied. Maintaining the health and wellness of our players is of the utmost importance to our organization."
After the game, Buccaneers head coach Bruce Arians said Brown was "no longer a Buc" while speaking to reporters.
"He is no longer a Buc. That's the end of the story," Arians said via NFL.com.
Buccaneers radio sideline reporter TJ Rives reported Arians benched Brown during the third quarter of Sunday's game and the wide receiver responded by taking off his shoulder pads and jersey and throwing them down on the bench.
Brown was then seen running shirtless onto the field and into the tunnel during the game's live broadcast as the Buccaneers' offensive drive continued.
Arians later told FOX Sports' Jay Glazer that he tried to get Brown back into the game but the receiver refused.
Arians then told Brown to get out, according to Glazer.
"Never seen anything like it in all my years," Arians told Glazer.
Brown denied quitting on the Buccaneers days later, instead accusing Arians of cutting him for not playing through injuries.
"I didn't quit. I was cut. I didn't walk away from my brothers. I was thrown out," Brown's statement read via ESPN's Adam Schefter.
Brown appeared in seven games for the Buccaneers this season and recorded 42 receptions for 545 yards and four touchdowns.
The seven-time Pro Bowler was initially placed on the NFL's reserve/COVID-19 list in September and missed Tampa Bay's Week 3 game against the Los Angeles Rams.
Brown won his first Super Bowl with the Buccaneers after signing with the franchise midway through the 2020 season and re-signed as part of a one-year, $6.25 million deal with a $2 million signing bonus and $3.1 million guaranteed this past offseason, despite undergoing off-season knee surgery.
Brown was recently among three players suspended for violating the NFL-NFLPA's COVID-19 protocols.
The NFL confirmed Brown and teammate Mike Edwards, as well as free agentJohn Franklin III -- if signed to a club -- will all be ineligible for the next three games in a news release shared on its official communications website on December 2.